@Gattungswesen_ has objected to the argument in my latest post, saying it “is predicated on an outdated analysis of capitalist society.” I want to take this post to respond to some of most important points raised.
If I can summarize it, @Gattungswesen_ makes these points:
- 1. “the majority of workers in the west don’t produce anything and what they do produce is superfluous.”
- “Surplus value is extracted in such a way that capitalism can do without workers.”
- “there is now a surplus population as well as a massive reserve army of labour who struggle to find work.
- “Capitalism requires workers less and less to produce surplus value”, “So workers have no bargaining chip anymore.”
- “the capitalist class don’t need our labour time to create profit”
Based on these points, @Gattungswesen_ concludes that my proposal that the working class get control of its own labor power (i.e., put an end to their competition through an association, a union) is not going to work.
In a later exchange, @Gattungswesen_ extended his argument:
“As for my points: The subsumption of the labour process has changed from a formal one to a real one. Relative surplus value characterises this real subsumption, which sees an increase.in productivity and the expulsion of workers from the production process. This is characterised by a decrease in wages, the precariousness and pauperisation of work, and the automation of the production process. This leads to an absolute decrease in workers producing things.
“Relative surplus value characterises this real subsumption, which sees an increase in productivity and the expulsion of workers from the production process. This is characterised by a decrease in wages, the precariousness and pauperisation of work, and the automation of the production process. This leads to an absolute decrease in workers producing things. A consequence of this is that those producing surplus value are becoming less relevant and irrelevant in the labour/capital relationship.
“This means a surplus population exists that is not valorising or expanding capital. The proletariat can no longer reproduce itself. The identity of the worker that characterised the former period of capital no longer exists. If a mass of superfluous workers produce a mass of superfluous products then it is not possible to reproduce the identity of the worker that was paramount to the struggles of the former period of capitalism. The proletariat no longer have the power to effect change through demands on capital. They can no longer champion the worker as an indispensable element in the labour/capital process.
“If this is your analysis then fine. But if your strategy seeks to produce communism through some critical mass of withdrawing labour and waiting for capitalism to crumble, then it is ignoring the analysis.”
I actually agree with most of what @Gattungswesen_ has to say here. By and large most workers in the West do not produce anything and a great deal of what they produce is superfluous. And there is a huge surplus population of workers who are struggling to find work. Capitalism today requires far fewer workers to produce surplus value and, as a result, workers have little or no bargaining power in today’s highly globalized economy.
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